Iowa baseball’s Wallace honored ahead of weekend series

The Hawkeyes’ ace was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Wednesday.


Ryan Adams

Hawkeye pitcher Trenton Wallace pitches during the baseball game against Illinois at Duane Banks Field on March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 2-1 after the 9th inning.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Prior to the start of the 2021 season, question marks still surrounded Iowa baseball’s pitching staff.

With Jack Dreyer out for the year with an elbow injury, it was unclear who would be the Hawkeyes’ ace.

As the team began its fourth series of the year today in Columbus, Ohio, there is no doubt who Iowa’s best healthy starter is.

Trenton Wallace is the most recent winner of the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award, and he’s been Iowa clear-cut ace all season so far.

Despite that, Wallace’s path to the top of the Hawkeyes’ rotation wasn’t typical. Last season, he didn’t start a single game, making just five mound appearance out of the bullpen.

Wallace, a junior from Rock Island, Illinois, was the first to get a chance to fill Dreyer’s spot, and so far, he’s made the most of his opportunity.

In a season-opening loss to Michigan, Wallace allowed just two runs on three hits over five innings of work.

That is his worst start of the year.

In his other two starts this season against Ohio State on March 12 and Nebraska last Friday — the performance that earned him Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors — Wallace allowed four hits over 13 shutout innings. He has 18 strikeouts to five walks over the span.

In both of those games, the Hawkeye bullpen was good too, completing the shutouts Wallace set up for them.

Prior to this season, Iowa had not shut an opponent out since 2017.

RELATED: Wild pitching dooms Iowa baseball in series finale against Nebraska

Through the first quarter of his 2020-21 campaign, Wallace is 2-0 with a conference-leading ERA of 1.00.

The southpaw’s name sits among the Big Ten’s best in a variety of other pitching statistics as well.

Wallace’s two runs allowed — both earned — ranks him first in both fewest runs and earned runs allowed. Opponents are struggling mightily against Wallace this year, batting just .119. So, Wallace ranks second in the conference in batting average against.

Wallace is also tied for second in fewest hits allowed with seven and is third in wins and strikeouts with 2 and 26, respectively.

“He can throw all his pitches for strikes,” head coach Rick Heller said of Wallace after the ace’s most recent start. “He’s really cleaned up the efficiency on his fastball and his breaking ball, and his change-up has really developed into a plus pitch. So, all those things and just throwing the fact that he is a tremendous competitor, that’s why he’s having success.”

Today, following two-straight Hawkeye losses, the left-hander will have a chance to shut Ohio State out for the second time this season.

The Hawkeyes begin their second four-game, three-team set of the year when they face the Buckeyes at Bill Davis Field in Columbus at 4 p.m. Iowa will face Ohio State again tomorrow afternoon before squaring off with Maryland tomorrow night and Sunday.

The Buckeyes come into this evening’s matchup with a 6-5 record after beating Rutgers on Monday to avoid the three-game sweep.

The Terrapins, meanwhile, sit at 5-6 but, like Ohio State, are coming off a win.

Wallace’s wins make up half of the Hawkeyes’ victories as Heller’s bunch currently sits three games below .500 at 4-7.